Genesis 42 Chapter 1 - 21
Genesis Chapter 42 Verse 1-21
Verse 01. Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why
do ye look one upon another?
Key Phrase: Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt; That is, to be sold there, or
otherwise it being there would be useless it could bot ne bought. Thus would have
been of no reason for foreigners to travel to get it. Now Jacob had either seen
persons passing by with corn, of whom he inquired from whence they had it, who
replied, from Egypt. Or he understood by the report of others that corn was to be
Key Phrase: Jacob said unto, his sons, why do ye look one upon another? like persons in
surprise, distress and despair, at their wits' end, not knowing what to do, what
course to take, which way to turn themselves, scarce able to speak to one another,
and consult with each other what was proper to be done. The meaning may be,
"why do ye look?" here and there, in the land of Canaan, where it is to no purpose
to look for corn when none is to be found, look where it is to be had.
Verse 02. And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither,
and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
Key Phrase: And he said, behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt; This explains what
Is meant by the phrase he saw, one sense being put for another.
Key Phrase: get ye down thither; As fast as you can without delay. Egypt lay lower or south of
Canaan, and therefore they are bid to go down.
Key Phrase: and buy for us from thence, that we may live, and not die; Which shows the fact
that the famine was very pressing. Unless they could buy corn from Egypt they
could not live, but would die.
Verse 03. And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
Note: They obeyed their father's orders, and immediately set out for Egypt. The "ten" of them
went down in a group all together. All except Benjamin, so that it is easily reckoned who
they were. They are called brethren not Jacob’s sons as they were normally referred
too. Each representing they’re own family not Jacob’s as a monarchy.
Note: They could carry more corn with ten and it would be bought by each to supply the
family. Also to prevent theft on the road to Egypt people were desperate during this
famine and would take it from travelers if possibl
Verse 04. But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest
peradventure mischief befall him.
Key Phrase: But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren’ Benjamin is
called Joseph's brother, because he was so both by father and the mother's side,
as the rest were not. Jacob kept him with him, being the youngest and his darling,
the only son he had with him of his beloved wife Rachel. Very probably the more
beloved by him since he had suffered the loss of Joseph. It was not only to keep
him company that he retained him at home, but for the reason following.
Key Phrase: for he said, lest peradventure mischief befall him; Jacob is referring to what had
befallen to Joseph his brother, as he imagined. It was also that he thought that
either that the journey would be too much for him, being young. Lest he should
be seized with sickness on the road or rather with death.
Verse 05. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine
was in the land of Canaan.
Key Phrase: And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came; Either among
the Egyptians that came to buy or among those who came from countries outside
Note: The use of the tern sons of Israel is used not the sons of Jacob because they represent
not their father but the 12 tribes that will become Israel. Jacob was given the name by
God of Israel by God.
Special Note: In Genesis 12:10 Abraham went down into Egypt because the famine was in the
land of Canaan. This is not the first time famine has been in the land of Canaan.
Verse 06. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the
people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves
before him with their faces to the earth.
Key Phrase: And Joseph was the governor over the land; Not the land of Canaan which was
Last mentioned, but the land of Egypt. Under Pharaoh, he had the chief and sole
authority, and especially in the affair of the corn, and the disposal of that.
Key Phrase: and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: Of Egypt, and also to all that
came out of other lands to buy. We know that he in person could not do all this,
but by those that acted under him.
Key Phrase: and bowed down themselves before him, with their faces to the earth; They
prostrated their whole bodies, stretching out their hands and feet, and touching
the ground with their faces, as was the manner of the eastern countries.
Note: They submit themselves to him in the most humble manner, and thereby, though
without their knowledge, fulfilled his dream of their sheaves making obeisance to his
sheaf, see Genesis 37:7.
Verse 07. And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto
them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye?
And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
Key Phrase: And Joseph saw his brethren; Among those that came to buy corn. He would of
course recognize them.
Key Phrase: and he knew them; Even though it had been more than 22 years at this point.
Their appearance had changed, their beards grown when they sold him their
habits and dress now being much the same it was when he was younger.
Key Phrase: but made himself strange unto them; He would act as if he took no notice of
them as his relatives. He conveyed himself to them as he did to other foreigners
yet more strangely then normal.
Key Phrase: and spake roughly unto them; Hard, with authority in his words. Put on a stern
countenance, and spoke with a high tone and in a rough surly manner to them. :
Key Phrase: and he said unto them, whence come ye?; He is asking who are you? What
country are you from? What is your business here? These would seem to be
normal questions to the sons of Israel from a governor of Egypt.
Note: For Joseph to have these questions asked was not normal. His assistants would have
normally recorded this information and sold the grain to them and told them to leave.
Key Phase: and they said, from the land of Canaan to buy food; 1st For which they could not
get in Canaan, the famine being there so great. 2nd To see if they would be truthful
to him about their purpose. All Joseph remembers of them is hatred and disdain.
Verse 08. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
Verse 09. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto
them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
Key Phase: And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them; Their bowing
and prostrating themselves before him brought to his remembrance his dreams of
their sheaves making obeisance to his, and of the sun, moon, and eleven stars,
doing the same to him, Genesis 37:7.
Note: Did you catch the specific correlation with the sheaves or stalks bundled together of the
corn (grain) is exactly what they are their requesting from him.
Key Phrase: and said unto them, ye are spies; Not believing they were, nor absolutely
accusing or asserting that they were such. This he said to try them, and what they
would say for themselves, and in order to lead on to further discourse with them.
Note: Joseph dealt with them as a judge on the bench, when examining persons, whose
charges have the nature of an interrogation, as this has: "ye are spies"; are ye not? surely
ye must be, and unless you give a better account of yourselves, I must think you are.
Key Phrase: to see the nakedness of the land ye are come; what parts of it are weakest or
most defenseless, less fortified easiest to break in at and invade the land. It was
not without reason that the Egyptians might suspect the neighboring nations
round about them, being in distress, and hearing of corn in Egypt.
Note: The pretext for this sudden accusation lies in the constant exposure of the Egyptians on
their eastern border, to raids and attacks from nomad hordes of Asiatics. Joseph’s words
are therefore quite natural. Others had formed ideas or plans of coming upon them and
taking away their corn by force. Thus the reason why foreigners that came to buy corn
were brought before Joseph and examined by him. God was with him in discernment of
the hearts of men. God is with Joseph always because of his faithfulness and Gods plan.
Verse 10. And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
Key Phrase: And they said unto him, nay, my lord; One in the name of the rest or each in his
turn, denying that they were spies. Thus addressing him with the reverence and
in submission, calling him their lord. This further supports his dreams in his youth.
Key Phrase: but to buy food are thy servants come; That they had and no other purpose
except what they came to Egypt for to by corn so they would not perish.
Verse 11. We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
Key Phrase: We are all one man's sons; It would be foolish for us to be spies, since we all have
the same father, therefore we are not likely to be spies.
Note: It could hardly be thought that a single family should engage in such an affair. Or that
one man would send his sons as spies and especially all of them. It being a dangerous
affair and they liable to be captured and put to death.
Key Phrase: we are true men; That spoke truth when they said they came to buy corn. They
are honest, upright, and sincere in what they said. They are not telling a lie.
Key Phrase: thy servants are no spies; This they expressed in the strongest terms with the
fullest assurance they could, detesting the charge and character of being spies.
Note: They call themselves his servants again affirmation of his dreams.
Verse 12. And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
Key Phrase: And he said unto them, nay; This argument will not do, I am not to be put off
with such words as these. Joseph is saying, if you can produce no better proof of
your being honest men than this and give no better account of yourselves. You
are saying that I must abide by it, Nay or No.
Key Phrase: to see the nakedness of the land ye are come; This he urged in order to get a
reaction and further information from them of their family and the state of it,
which he was anxious to know.
Verse 13. And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of
Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
Key Phrase: And they said, thy servants are twelve brethren; Or rather, "were twelve", since
one afterwards is said not to be. That they are all related.
Key Phrase: the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; Of course they are of Jacob, who
dwelt there. This is said with the same view as before, to show the improbability
of their being spies:
Key Phrase: and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father; Meaning Benjamin, of
whom Joseph was eager to hear of, and no doubt was glad to hear he was alive.
And his father also and that they were both together in the land of Canaan.
Key Phrase: and one is not; Is not in the land of the living, is dead. Or so they thought Joseph
was, who is the person intended, as appears from what both Reuben and Judah
afterwards say, Genesis 42:22.
Note: Yet here he was before them, and was the person they were speaking to. This must
have been very difficult to hear, who knew full well they meant himself.
Verse 14. And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
Key Phrase: That is it that I spake; Or just as I have spoken or claimed you to be. Joseph
seems to say that their claim to be all the sons of one man is improbable and
suspicious. If these suspicions are to be removed, their statements must be
Verse 15. Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence,
except your youngest brother come hither.
Key Phrase: Hereby ye shall be proved; Whether you are spies or not. By producing their
youngest brother, said to be at home with his father. (continued)
Key Phrase: by the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother
come hither; The phrase, "by the life of Pharaoh", seems to be the form of an
oath, as it was common with many nations. It is a strong asseveration. As dear as
the life of Pharaoh was to him. So surely they should not leave from the place
where they were, unless their youngest brother Benjamin was brought to him.
Note: It is recorded with the Scythians, who used to swear by the royal throne. The Romans, in
later times, by the life, health, and genius of their emperor. The custom continued with
the Egyptians. Even today you taken an oath in court “to tell the whole truth and nothing
but the truth so help you God.”
Verse 16. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that
your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of
Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
Key Phrase: Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother; He proposes that one of them
might be sent by them to their father's house, and bring, Benjamin down to Egypt.
Key Phrase: and ye shall be kept in prison; The rest of them till he came back with Benjamin.
Key Phrase: that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you; By this
action it would be seen whether they were men of truth and honesty or not. And
should their brother be brought. It would appear they to be good men and true.
Key Phrase: or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely ye are spies; Should not their brother they
spoke of be produced. Then it would be plain and a simple case that they were
not the honest men they pretended to be. And they did not come merely to buy
corn, but had an ill intention as spies and sentenced to put to death.
Verse 17. And he put them all together into ward three days.
Key Phrase: And he put them all together into ward three days.; In order to consult together,
and agree who should be sent to fetch their brother. Which it seems probable in
this length of time they could agree upon one. But not one of them caring to be
the bringer of such news and demand to their father.
Note: He put them into ward, is a very specific placement. Not the dungeon or hole in the
ground but a ward would be under supervision and under guard.
Verse 18. And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
Key Phrase: And Joseph said unto them the third day; He put on such an appearance asking
them who they had choose. And finding they could not come to an agreement
among themselves who should go on the errand. He recedes from his former
order, and to give them another option.
Key Phrase: this do, and live: The meaning of what he was about to say to them, which if they
punctually observed and performed, it would be the means of saving their lives.
Key Phrase: for I fear God; He is saying he would not do either an unjust or cruel thing. This
might have given them an idea who he was. Yet there being among the Gentiles,
in all nations, some few that feared God, they took no further notice of it. And
heard only that they might expect just and equitable dealings by him. Since
he was in such an high position in Egypt he knew there was one higher than God,
to whom he was accountable.
Verse 19. If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison:
go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
Key Phrase: let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison; Agree among
yourselves which of you (for one of you must) remain in prison where you were
and the rest being set at liberty to go.
Note: Again the words used here. “bound in the house of your prison” It tells us that Joseph
has restrained them in prison with care. Probably the same place he had been for so
many years at the ward and guard of Potiphar’s prison connected to the house.
Key Phrase: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses; Joseph, though he dealt with
them after this manner to get what knowledge he could of his family and to get
a chance to see his brother. Yet he was concerned for the good of them and
theirs and that they should be in extreme want through the famine. Also that they
might have a speedy supply of corn was not willing to detain them any longer.
Verse 20. But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye
shall not die. And they did so.
Key Phrase: But bring your youngest brother unto me; Prove to me upon their return for
more corn. It tells us it was early in the famine cycle.
Key Phrase: so shall your words be verified; That they were true men and had no ill design
upon the land but were come only to buy corn.
Key Phrase: and ye shall not die; As spies, which they were otherwise threatened with. As it
was customary in all nations to put such to death when found out.
Verse 21. And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that
we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear;
therefore is this distress come upon us.